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“Now somebody tell me what the hell is going on!”

Before reading this week’s debut issue of Green Lantern: The Lost Army it might be helpful to read the free preview that was released last month.  It’s not required reading but it does give you a bit better introduction to what’s going on with John Stewart and the rest of the Green Lanterns he finds himself returning to consciousness next to.  While this issue starts off with an action sequence it’s the only one you’ll find here because Cullen Bunn has filled the first outing of his latest series with enough intriguing bits that there really isn’t room for any more.

This series is built around a number of key mysteries, the main one at the moment being how the Green Lanterns ended up where they are and just where that place is.  Bunn of course isn’t going to answer those questions, or the mystery of Krona, just yet but he does add two more elements to the puzzle in the form of Guy Gardner and an interesting call back to the universe before ours.  But before we get to that John Stewart has to deal with the struggle between the handful of lanterns and beings which appear like cosmic antibodies trying to purge the universe of invading germs.

The fight allows for a flashback to John’s days in the Marines and shows how different his approach is to be a Green Lantern than those around him.  Unlike most who view the Corps as a police organization it’s John experiences as a sniper that provides his perspective.  His answer to confrontation is aggression, something which works well in the battlefield but not as well when subtlety is called for.  Like Hal Jordan’s struggle between balancing his devil may care attitude with being responsible for others, John’s challenge will be to navigate his propensity to tear things apart with his ability to build them up.

John’s modus operendi in a nutshell

The fight sequence reveals a key bit of information about Krona in that he has no memory of the arrival of Volthoom and the creation of his gauntlet, let alone the abilities of the power rings.  This suggests that this Krona was somehow displaced at some point earlier in time and leads me down a line of thinking that this isn’t so much another place as it is another time – something reinforced by the last page of the issue.  More on that later!

Ole Saint *ick

I was really happy to see Guy Gardner appear, complete with two power rings and a new uniform.  It looks much better here than in the cover image recently released with the September solicitations which made it look like an orange and green uniform.  The red and green variation on Guy’s classic uniform looks sharp and provides fodder for one of the few lighthearted moments of the issue.  Frankly I think that John needs Guy as a foil and Guy’s charisma will help carry the book.  Whether intentional or not the recent past has shown that both characters fair better when paired together and they have good chemistry.  That Guy showed up having not had either ring actively on him hints that he was intentionally chosen to be when and where they have appeared.  Guy’s comment that the Guardians may be behind this is right on considering that they mentioned a mysterious plan back in Green Lantern #40 and one has to wonder if what’s happened to the Green Lantern Corps is a direct result of that plan.

The issue comes to an end with a couple of startling, if understated, revelations that ties this series back to Green Lantern #23.1 which told us of the universe before ours, the universe where the Lighsmiths of the emotional spectrum was explored however briefly by Robert Venditti.  If you look closely at the the spear which John Stewart finds among the remains of the dead lanterns it is a perfect match for the spears carried by the Fury Lightsmiths, the Red Lanterns of their time.  The issue’s reveal at the end looks very much like the Blue Lightsmith’s “converter”, their version of a central power battery.  Given the red appearance and the existence of spear and red energy it’s a fair assumption that the pyramid structure is the converter for the Red Lightsmith’s.

GL: Lost Army #1 on the left, Green Lantern 23.1 on the right

Taking those clues along with Krona’s memory lapse and I have a few theories about what’s going on.  My favorite idea is that, drawn irresistibly to the mystery of creation, Krona either traveled through the dawn of time as did Volthoom as shown in Green Lantern #17 or he was in some way duplicated, ending up in the previous universe in a time where the Lightsmiths are still very much active.  If this is the real Krona then of course the next mystery is who was the Krona who went on to go bat guano crazy?  The New Guardians, having been around ten billion years ago and new about the arrival of Volthoom, could have the knowledge to send the Green Lanterns there as well in order to protect them until the time is right for their return.  Another thought is that this is all taking place on the other side of the Source Wall.  Bunn has said in interview that some of this will be revealed in pretty short order and I’m really looking forward to see what the official version really is.

Jesus Saiz makes this issue look very, very pretty at least as far as his execution with the characters are concerned.  His work is pretty stellar and I like how John’s eyes have reverted to their original appearance, hinting that his distance in space and/or time from the central battery is so immense that they no longer glow green.  I also like his version of Guy Gardner sans the mustache and long hair even though I count myself as a fan of the look when it really made sense that it was related to being solely a Red Lantern.  That said I do think that he energies when entirely into the characters in the forefront while going light on background detail or creativity in ring use.  It’s way too early to be overly critical at this point and I’ll take Saiz’s work any day I can get it.

Green Lantern: The Lost Army #1 doesn’t answer any questions nor should it in the first issue.  Instead Cullen Bunn gives readers some tantalizing clues that encourage a return visit for the next installment.  From the surprise return of Guy Gardner to the hints of a universe gone by to Jesus Saiz’s beautiful artwork, this issue does a great job of introducing to the strange new (or old!) world that is now home to the Green Lantern Corps.  Eight out of ten lanterns.

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